Maryland Casinos & Gambling

Maryland has casinos nowadays, but since the state was created it has gone back and forth with regard to its stance on gambling. Back in the day, when lotteries ran rampant all over the newly-founded country, Maryland was riddled with lotteries.

Just as it went in many other early states, the lotteries soon became more unscrupulous and were eventually banned. Since the 18th century, the legality of gambling has changed a few times in the state of Maryland.

Nowadays, however, it seems as though the state is following the lead of many of its neighbors and becoming more casino-friendly. In fact, Maryland is growing to be so open to casinos that many people feel as though it will be one of the next states to legalize and regulate online casinos; much like you will find in New Jersey and neighboring Delaware.

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Maryland Casinos

Rocky Gap Casino Resort
Horseshoe Casino Baltimore
Hollywood Casino Perryville
Maryland Live! Casino
Ocean Downs
MGM National Harbor

Gambling in Maryland

Maryland laws are somewhat permissive when it comes to land-based real money gaming. The available regulated gambling options include slots and other classic casino games, pari-mutuel wagering, charity gaming events and, last but not least, state-controlled lottery games.

Maryland doesn’t have any tribal casinos, so the aforementioned casino games are offered by commercial gambling venues. Even though recreational gambling is on the rise in Old Line State the local lawmakers haven’t passed any iGaming-friendly regulations so far.

Maryland Casinos

One by one, different types of traditional table games were legalized – by 2012, most table games were allowed. All types of slot machines and video poker are also legal in Maryland. As a result, players do not need to seek offshore casinos unless they prefer them.

In Maryland, the only type of casino you will find are of the land-based variety. Other than being able to determine that we are not talking about riverboat casinos, the term “land-based” does little to fill you in on what, exactly, these casinos have to offer. In Maryland, the land-based casinos are able to offer the full casino experience—including video poker, slots, and table games (including poker).

In addition to this, many of these casinos also double as resorts, which means that there will be restaurants, shopping, and shows to accompany the casino floor. Maryland is still in its infancy with regard to offering full-scale casinos with all types of games, so the number of casinos that exist is small now, but growing.

The only games of chance players are prohibited from gambling on can be found in section 12-103 of Maryland’s criminal law, which states that the following games are illegal to gamble on:

  • Craps
  • Thimbles
  • Little Joker

The penalty for gambling on those three games in your home can range from a $100 fine to six months in jail. Fortunately, players may play online craps without fear of penalty.

Gambling is allowed in nearly all establishments. However, section 10-502 of Maryland’s business regulations explicitly bans any gambling on games of chance in an establishment operated by a supplier of motor fuel. In other words, gambling is prohibited at gas stations or any other enterprise run by a motor fuel company in the state of Maryland.

Although billiard is not a traditional casino game, section 12-101 of Maryland’s criminal code explicitly states that billiard tables are not considered gaming devices. This means that citizens may host billiard gambling tournaments in their home without fear of criminal punishment.

The Maryland criminal law code states that citizens may own and operate antique slot machines in their homes as long as the machines were manufactured a minimum of 25 years ago.

Maryland currently hosts six notable casinos:

Maryland Sportsbooks & Betting

House Bill 989 was introduced in February of 2018, and it created a task force focused on the study and implementation of sports betting in Maryland. This eventually led to the creation of sports bill HB 1014, which acted as an expansion of the state law for commercial sports wagering. HB 1014 passed with an overwhelming majority of 124-to-14 but failed to pass through the Maryland Senate. Legislature to legalize sports gambling will not reconvene until January of 2019.

Although sports gambling is still illegal in Maryland, it’s highly likely to be legalized soon. Pressure from citizens and the Maryland State House, as well as the desire for increased state revenue from sports gambling, indicate a positive shift for sports betting legalization.

eSports and fantasy leagues

Maryland doesn’t differentiate between electronic sports (eSports) and traditional sports. As a result, the state handles gambling on eSports the same way it deals with traditional sports gambling – it’s not legal yet, but there’s a big push for it to be legalized soon.

Maryland legalized fantasy league gambling in 2012 with the SB900 bill, which moved regulation of fantasy sports out of the state comptroller office and into the state lottery and gaming commission office. The only notable ban in fantasy league gaming is on fantasy sports kiosks. As a result, companies such as Eagle Strike have been evicted from Maryland.

All types of online fantasy sports are legal and can be accessed by players located in Maryland.

Animal racing

Horse racing and Maryland share a rich history. Section 11-101 of Maryland’s business regulations clearly states that pari-mutuel betting, intertrack betting, and satellite simulcast horse race betting in Maryland are legal. However, gambling on dog racing is prohibited.

Notable horse racing tracks in Maryland include:

  • Pimlico Race Course, Baltimore
  • Laurel Park, Laurel
  • Casino at Ocean Downs, Berlin
  • Rosecroft Raceway, Fort Washington
  • Maryland State Fair, Timonium

The Pimlico Race Course hosts one of the three annual Triple Crown tracks.

Playing Poker in Maryland

Many of Maryland’s casinos offer live poker. The Maryland Live Casino currently hosts the most extensive collection of live poker tables in the state.

All Maryland online casinos recommended by us feature excellent selections of online poker games as well.

Maryland Lottery

In 1972, an amendment legalizing lotteries was added to the Maryland state constitution. Since then, Maryland has generated over $14 billion in gaming revenue from lotteries alone.

Popular multi-state lotteries – such as Powerball and Mega Millions – and standard in-state lotteries – like Keno and video lotteries – can all be played in Maryland. Players can also choose to play with any online casino which hosts a lottery that abides by Maryland’s regulations.

Lottery winners in Maryland receive 60%, while 30% goes to the state in the form of taxes. The remaining 10% is awarded to the lottery’s operators.

Maryland Bingo Games

Section 12-101 of Maryland’s criminal law code legalizes some of the most popular forms of gaming events, including:

  • Bingo games
  • Carnivals
  • Raffles

Although not explicitly stated, games such as pull tabs are also legal in Maryland.

All forms of charitable games defined by section 12-101 are regulated on the county-level. Most (although not all) Maryland counties have authorized Bingo.

Maryland Gambling History

In Maryland, especially more recently, the legality surrounding casinos is something that has come to down to certain terms within the laws that prohibited gambling. The vague terms used have given courts a lot of room for interpretation as far as what constitutes gambling. As such, we have seen Maryland courts over the years make some interesting rulings with regard to what is or is not considered to be wagering. In recent years, however, the wording of state laws have been altered to avoid further confusion and to generally end the prohibition of gambling.

As far as the casino history and gambling history of the state is concerned, we will have to take you back to the latter parts of the 18th century. Back then, there were thousands of lotteries that originally ran as charities whose proceeds benefited local churches and other organizations. Before the mid-1800s, however, lotteries became riddled with fraud and, by the end of the 1830s, they were outlawed.

Then in the 1920s, Maryland created the Horse racing oversight board, which not only governed the horse races that were held in the state, it also regulated the wagers that were placed on those races. With things going smoothly as far as pari-mutuel wagering was concerned, the state moved once again to relax laws that prohibited gambling. They did this in the mid-1940s by allowing certain communities to gain licenses to host slot machines. This went on until the 1960s when Maryland announced that it would no longer be renewing licenses for slot machines. With this came yet another period of casino and gambling prohibition in the state.
For the next 40-50 years, the state of gambling in Maryland remained fairly bleak. Though a state-run lottery was introduced in the 1970s, every style of casino gambling was and continued to be outlawed.

In 2012, the Governor of Maryland announced that he was ready and willing to expand the score of legal gambling in the state. By February, legislation was introduced and passed that would not only grant a license to a new casino located in Prince George’s County, but it would also grant licenses to other casinos (really pari-mutuel gambling locations at horse tracks) and make it legal for them to host table games. Since this 2012 ruling, there have been 6 casinos opened, with 5 of them featuring 20 or more table games. Maryland is slowly but surely positioning itself as one of the best states on the Eastern Seaboard for live casino play.